In 1683, just a week before race day, the citizens of Newmarket extinguished a major fire which was threatening to destroy half the town. Indirectly, the brave actions of the townsfolk led to the downfall of the Royal House of Stuart.
The Regicide at Rye House Because King Charles II and his brother James, Duke of York were killed north-east of Hoddesdon on their return from the races. The ambush had been well-organized by an extremist Whig group who had concealed a band of one hundred armed men in the grounds of the Rye House.
Contrary to the hopes of the conspirators, the country did not rise in rebellion against the Restored Stuart Monarchy and their crypto-Catholicism. And yet their was some cold comfort to be taken in the undeniable force of Parliamentary Power. Because twenty-one year old Mary II was placed on the throne of England, Scotland and Ireland on terms very different from those of her executed grandfather King Charles I.
Thoughts now turned to the task of marrying the Queen to a suitable European monarch. Her father had plans to form a personal union with the Protestant House of Orange, but it soon became clear that Willem would insist on a co-monarchy, and this led Parliamentarians to the conclusion that a French noble was a more strategic choice.